If you’re stopping by this chapter, you probably just bought a Linux-based netbook—or you’re weighing the purchase of one against a Windows XP model. This chapter will give you an overview of Ubuntu Linux, an open-source operating system, which means that everyone is free to edit its code and potentially make it better. Linux was one of the first systems to join the netbook party.
Linux started out as one man’s hobby and has grown into a robust modern operating system, complete with its own Windows-like interface. And it’s an ideal system for a netbook. Thanks to the efforts of thousands of volunteers, corporate backing, and brilliant programmers writing (mostly free) software for it, Linux lets you do all the standard computing tasks: email, Web browsing, instant messaging, word processing, games, and so on.
Later, you’ll learn about the software you can run on your Linux netbook. This chapter is a guided tour of the Linux system itself: how to get started with it and where to find stuff. So grab your netbook to see how Linux looks and works.
Unlike Windows and Mac OS X (which are created, updated, and sold exclusively by either Microsoft or Apple), Linux is available from many different sources. Linux is an open-source program—crafted, improved, and spun off in its early years by an army of volunteers in a software version of an Amish barn-raising. These days, big companies like Oracle and IBM are developing Linux ...